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Safety goal may reduce injuries, fatalities in years ahead

New York drivers may have safer commutes in the decades ahead if a proposal by the Obama administration is successful. The U.S. Department of Transportation has announced a program that aims to end fatalities and injuries within 30 years. As part of its preliminary steps toward this goal, on Oct. 5 it said that it would begin focusing on encouraging seat belt use and discouraging drunk and distracted driving as well as expanding the use of rumble strips. A plan to eliminate traffic fatalities and injuries was first proposed in 1997 in Sweden and has been adopted by other cities and countries in the years since.

With fatalities up an estimated 9 percent in the first six months of 2016 over the same period in the preceding year, and a 7.2 percent increase in fatalities in 2015 compared to 2014, safety advocates and government officials are concerned. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said that reaching the goal of zero fatalities would require drivers and others to commit themselves to thinking differently about safety.

Safety technology and self-driving cars are expected to play a significant role in making roads safer. Human error accounts at least in part for over 90 percent of accidents, and fully autonomous vehicles would eliminate this factor.

Human error that results in car accidents includes driving under the influence, driving while fatigued, texting and driving, speeding and other careless behaviors. A person might be hit by a driver who is uninsured or underinsured and receive little compensation. In some cases, even when a driver is fully insured, the insurance company's compensation is not enough to cover costs such as medical expenses and lost income. Victims might need years of physical therapy in order to recover completely, or they might be permanently disabled and unable to return to work. An attorney may be able to advise them about their options in these circumstances.

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